Conservatives Coalescing In Opposition to Net Neutrality

Conservative luminaries led by anti-abortion rights activist Phyllis Schlafly and anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist last Thursday penned a decidedly anti-Net Neutrality open letter to Members of Congress, in which they warned that the new regulations proposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would curb innovation and severely limit the ability of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to prioritize valuable content over otherwise objectionable and obscene material.

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“There is no evidence of a market failure to justify the burdensome government regulations some are proposing,” the letter read. “Unfortunately, it appears that a few FCC commissioners lack an understanding of how regulations affect investment.”

Proponents of the FCC’s proposed broadband rules note that the issue of Net Neutrality is one in which conservatives are purportedly split. The Christian Coalition of America, a social conservative advocacy group, endorsed the Left’s overtures at re-regulating the Internet. Likewise, Gun Owners of America have also voiced support for the controversial policy.

But last week’s letter–whose signatories include the likes of American Family Association President Tim Wildmon, Tom McClusky of the Family Research Council, prominent Catholic Deal Hudson and Mrs. Schlafly–suggest the Right, as a virtually unified whole, has turned a page in the debate over a dynamic Internet, and now is staunchly and almost uniformly opposed to what some critics call “a government takeover of the Internet.”

Among their principal stated grievances was the much-debated purported result of net neutrality: All content would be equal, and therefore ISPs would be forced to treat pornography the same as family-friendly content.

“Net Neutrality regulations also call into question how obscenity and other objectionable content on the Internet is treated,” warned the letter. “Let’s be clear, all content is not equal and does not deserve equal treatment, but net neutrality prohibits broadband service providers from prioritizing content consumers want and preventing peddlers of child pornography from having unblocked access to every home Internet connection.”

While the group’s letter was delivered only to Members of Congress, and not filed with the FCC, they hope it will spur public interest in the issue. The Commission announced in early April it had extended the deadline for public comment on the new regulations. Those interested in commenting may do so here (proceeding 09-191) this week.

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